2019-12-04 21:56:011 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Chanel Adams, Image source: United States Department of Agriculture
President Trump plans to end food stamps for over 600,0000 Americans. On Wednesday, Dec. 5, the Trump administration made a rule change that would limit states’ abilities to provide food stamps to residents. They made changes to the work requirements for recipients of food stamps. This move could cost hundreds of thousands of people to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program known as SNAP. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Brandon Lipps spent about 20 minutes speaking to reporters about the upcoming changes to the rule that will take effect on April 1, 2020.
“We’re taking action to reform our SNAP program in order to restore the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population and be respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program,” Perdue told reporters. “Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch. That’s the commitment behind SNAP, but, like other welfare programs, it was never intended to be a way of life.”
This rule change would prevent states from waiving these standards. As a result, they would restrict its use to areas with a 6% unemployment rate or higher. The national unemployment rate back in October was 3.6%, according to NBC News. During the conference on Wednesday, the USDA reported that there are 688,000 Americans who would lose access to their food stamps. That is slightly down from the reported 750,000 Americans who would be affected. According to the USDA, this move is part of Trump’s April 2018 executive order called “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility,” which includes creating more work programs and limit public assistance.
This rule would reportedly save the government $5.5 billion over the past five years, according to the USDA. The agency also revealed that the 2.9 million adults who are currently on the SNAP program are able-bodied and don’t have any dependents. It also revealed that 2.1 million adults weren’t currently working. However, this rule wouldn’t help Americans find work, according to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
"This Administration is out of touch with families who are struggling to make ends meet by working seasonal jobs or part time jobs with unreliable hours," Stabenow said. "Seasonal holiday workers, workers in Northern Michigan’s tourism industry, and workers with unreliable hours like waiters and waitresses are the kinds of workers hurt by this proposal."
The senator also noted that adding work requirements to the SNAP have failed with Congress before when they considered passing the Farm Bill back in 2018. The House rejected it with a bipartisan vote of 330-83. The Senate then vetoed the bill in a similar vote of 68-30.
“There’s a reason Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly rejected this callous proposal in the Farm Bill and instead focused on bipartisan job training opportunities that can actually help families find good paying jobs,” she added.
This new rule has received its share of criticism and controversy. Hunger advocates have explained that the purpose of SNAP is to help combat hunger in the country and doesn’t prevent people from seeking work. Many Americans who live in rural areas, are impoverished, or suffer from mental health issues and disabilities seek the benefits of this program. The black and Hispanic community, LGBTQ community, and women would be the most affected by the change.
“The policy targets very poor people struggling to work — some of whom are homeless or living with health conditions,” Stacy Dean, the food assistance vice president for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said. "Taking away basic food assistance from these individuals will only increase hardship and hunger, while doing nothing to help them find steady full-time work.”
This is just the first of three rules that have been changed to the SNAP program proposed by the Trump administration. The other two rules would change the way that the 40 states enroll families into SNAP and how they receive federal financial aid. It can also include a cap on housing and utility costs, two factors that are considered when an individual applies for food stamps.
It hasn’t been revealed when these new rules would be implemented. Earlier this week, a study from the Urban Institution looked into each of the three rules and found that less than 3.7 million Americans would receive SNAP in an average month. Some 2.2 million households would see their average drop by $127, while over 3 million Americans would see a drop of $37 per month. This change will also affect 982,000 students who could lose access to free or reduced school lunches.
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